Adventures in Wally, er, Disneyworld

The last time I was at Disneyworld, I was too small to ride Space Mountain. All it took to assuage the crying that ensued was a Mickey-shaped ice cream bar. When my little sister and I asked my dad what his favorite ride had been, he said it was the monorail that took us back to the hotel. His answer explains why I haven’t been there in a while.
Luckily, I have a friend that completed Disney’s internship program and now works as a campus recruiter, so I was able to visit the parks this past weekend for free with her family! I had a fabulous time running from ride to ride, watching the shows and parades and sleeping like a baby at the end of the day. Not much seems to have changed over at Disneyworld, and this is both a good and bad thing. Here are some of my humble observations from the weekend:
  • I think it’s great that Disney has always tried to incorporate different cultures into their attractions; a few of my favorites from the recent trip were Epcot’s Food & Wine festival (selling tapas and wine samples for each of the “countries” at Epcot) and the Lion King show at the Animal Kingdom park. But maybe it’s time to update “It’s a Small World,” which neatly places each race of robot child into their respective continents.
  • I love that Captain Jack Sparrow (a hilariously much more realistic robot than the originals) is now incorporated into the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. However, adding Iago (annoying parrot from Aladdin) to the Tiki Room was clearly a mistake.
  • Unless you’re a corn dog enthusiast, there aren’t a lot of dining options in the park. This is especially true for people like me who try to eat somewhat healthy. The lack of nutritional options was very surprising considering Disney’s extremely family-friendly culture. Even walking around the parks for days couldn’t counteract the amount of fat in oneof their $6 hamburgers! But I have to give them some credit — you can now bring your own foods into the park, which is definitely a plus.
  • Interns at Disney take classes on Disney corporate culture, and how I would love to sit in on one! How they get their employees (and most customers) to stay so chipper is mind boggling!
  • Though most of the newer attractions are chock full of shameless advertisements, many of them have educational value. Definitely something to remember when I’m one of those “uncool” moms 🙂

Now, as for the strange picture above: the ride “Spaceship Earth” (inside the Epcot ball) takes your picture during the ride (judging by my mugshot, I didn’t see it coming). The coolest thing, though, is after the ride is over you’re led into an interactive room where you can e-mail these postcards to yourself. How cool is that?



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Top 10 Rainy Day Songs

I am a music addict, and yes, I’ll admit I am one of those kids who may be at risk for hearing loss due to having the ipod earbuds permanently attached. My friends often tease me for having a playlist for every occasion, from “Hwy 316 Mix” to “Tailgating.”

It is another cloudy day in Athens, and has been raining for most of the week. Besides yesterday when I had to  hoof it through mudpuddles in heels to go to my client meeting (which went great, besides that!), I generally love the rain. Athens really needs it right now because of the lingering drought, and sometimes it’s just nice to sit inside, enjoy the sound of the rain and listen to some mighty moody tunes.

Naturally, I have a playlist dedicated to rainy days. Now, my taste in music isn’t the most original, but I like to think it’s decent 🙂 Here are my top rainy day 10 songs:

  1. Navy Taxi by Kate Nash
  2. Grace by Jeff Buckley
  3. Sparks by Coldplay
  4. Angel from Montgomery by Bonnie Rait
  5. Sail Away by David Gray
  6. Everybody Knows by Ryan Adams
  7. Holiday in Spain by Counting Crows
  8. No Other Way by Jack Johnson
  9. The Story by Brandy Carlile
  10. The Drugs Don’t Work by Radiohead

Know any other good ones?

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September Highlights

The past few weeks I’ve been very busy, but it has definitely paid off! First, I’m happy to annouce I will be one of the students attending UGA Connect on Sept. 19-20. Apparently blogging my entrance essay (in the post below) earned me a few brownie points 🙂 I am excited to learn all I can about social media from some very important names in PR that will be speaking at the conference. Along with three other students, I will also be helping to cover the event via Twitter, podcasts, the blog and more. Follow me on Twitter for updates!

The goal is that all of the new social media knowledge will come in handy during the job search early next year, but also as I continue to promote Jeannette Rankin Foundation and their new book, Daring to Dream. More about the book and ordering information can be found here.

On a different note, I have now officially mastered the surprise b-day party! Ken turned 26 on Sept. 7, and on Friday more than 20 of his friends and family showed up at the Cheesecake Factory at Perimeter Mall for a surprise b-day dinner. Judging by his face as he walked in (seen above), he had no clue what he was walking into! He said later it was one of the best nights he had every had 🙂 I have to give the staff at the Cheesecake Factory kudos for attempting to piece together the cake, which fell apart during the ride down to Atlanta. To see more pictures, check out my Google album.

In other news, I am volunteering at Tri For Tourettes (at the Concourse in Atl) on Sunday, and am excited about seeing all the kiddies do their thing! It’s amazing how young they are starting now. It is also the last season I’ll be able to watch the Dawgs from the student section, so the next few home games are sure to be fun, and possibly slightly emotional.

Stay tuned for UGA Connect recap and more!

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Democracy’s Next Generation…

To hack or to flack? That is the question I struggled with when I first enrolled in Grady College my junior year. While I knew the PR industry had a bad rap, the “rapidly-changing” (or, perhaps diminishing) world of print media made me hesitant to join the army of notebook-wielding hacks. I chose PR, secretly fearing that the “real” journalism students would turn up their noses at me.

The class lectures on the blogosphere and social media were intimidating at first. The fact that social media was changing everything in the PR industry was scary, but even worse was the constant warning from my professors: employers will expect you to know all of this! I dreaded the chore of learning how to tag, tweet, widget, Wiki and everything in between, but once I started blogging myself and following other people’s blogs, I changed my mind about this whole social media thing.

The future of journalism, PR and Democracy itself (as the words on Grady College’s front door proclaim) isn’t something to be feared; in fact, the newer mass communication strategies are even more fun! Social media adds new voices to the conversation and, in this new realm, even flacks like me are free to be published to their heart’s content. And, hey, if bloggers are now receiving credentials at the Democratic National Convention, they must be on to something.

But social media is still uncharted territory, which means that to truly understand it (and its uses in PR) one must hear from today’s social media pioneers. After all, one false move in today’s world can land a well-intentioned PR pro on The Bad Pitch Blog! I want to meet the professionals whose blogs I have followed, fellow social media beginners and everyone in between. I want to share what I’ve learned with others, using my newly-found tools. And, of course, I really want to be chosen to attend UGA Connect.

UPDATE: I will be one of the 10 students attending UGA Connect on Sept. 19-20! Besides attending the conference, I will be helping out with coverage of the event, through social media outlets of course! Follow me, ChristiePat, on Twitter, or visit the UGA Connect Blog for updates.

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Back to school. Not that I ever really left.

This semester I am actually excited to start back at UGA, because it’s my last one! I never thought the day would come, but I am finally taking my capstone PR class, PR Campaigns with Dr. Karen Russell. It’s a semester-long group project, and the other members of my group seem great. Our group’s client is Power Partners, Inc., an Athens-based manufacturer of energy transformers. Our work is mainly concerned with their new line of solar water heating systems, which have the potential for some great press coverage (and even legislative opportunities) as homebuilders look for ways to “go green.” I am very excited about getting to know everyone, and putting everything I’ve learned so far to use!

My other classes this semester include companion animal care, drama, softball and a psychology class. I am especially excited about breaking out the old softball glove, though it’s been years since I’ve played so I hope I don’t embarrass myself too badly.

In between my extremely difficult classes (he he!) I decided to take another internship at the Jeanette Rankin Foundation, which provides scholarships to low-income women age 35 and over. It’s been very interesting reading some of the scholars’ stories and learning about some of the obstacles they have overcome. Many of the women tell their stories in the upcoming book Daring to Dream, which will be released very soon. One of my main responsibilities this semester will be to promote this book, and I am very excited about honing my skills writing/ designing press materials and pitch letters.

Between PR Campaigns class and the internship, I am starting to feel like my own little PR agency! I will try to update more often, especially once the great job search begins.

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My Last Day at The Georgia Club

Tiffani Brooks, Alan Rockett, Sarah Freeman and Mike O'Malley

Some of my wonderful co-workers treated me to lunch at the Clubhouse for my last day. Counter-clockwise: Tiffani Brooks, Alan Rockett, Sarah Freeman and Mike O'Malley

Today was my last official day as an intern at The Georgia Club, and I simply can’t say enough great things about my experience in just one post! It was tough to say goodbye to everyone, especially with the “star treatment” I received today. I was treated to lunch in the Clubhouse, where I had to have the amazing shrimp & grits just one more time, and the kitchen surprised us with a delicious dessert platter for the occasion. Everyone in our office and other departments showered me with compliments and warm wishes. My direct supervisor, Sarah Freeman, gave me a very sweet card, two extremely thoughtful gifts and just a general boost of confidence. If you’re reading this, THANK YOU SARAH!

Apart from the amazing people I got to work with, the best part about this internship was the sheer amount of experience it has given me. This was no coffee and copies internship – I truly got to have a big part (and a say) in several projects, including electronic and print newsletters, several graphic design and writing projects, social media and more. I helped TGC start their very own blog, and am very excited to see it progress in the coming months along with the new Web site.

Most recently, I was involved with promoting The Georgia Club Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament (a few photos are posted on my Google album). I had the opportunity to sit in on many meetings, write several promotional e-mails and sponsorship letters, and design the program for the event. It was awesome to see the whole thing come together this past Saturday, August 2. I even got to rub shoulders with several local celebrities, including Neal Boortz, Chuck Dowdle, Suzanne Yoculan and many others. By some miracle of God, I was able to carry on a conversation with one of my long-time favorites, David Greene, for a few minutes without losing my cool. True to reputation, he was a very nice guy. It was the big-name journalists at the event that made me nervous 🙂

Like all good things, this experience had to come to an end. But I will never forget everything I have learned this past few months, or the kindness everyone at The Georgia Club has shown me.

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Caroline’s Wedding

me with the beeeaauuutiful bride!

me with the beeeaauuutiful bride!

On Friday, Juy 25 my sis became Mrs. Joshua Cody! The wedding and reception were held at Alvaton Banquet Hall in Alvaton (which is in Meriwether County, about a half hour drive from our parents’ house). I must say, she looked absolutely gorgeous, and the look on my brother-in-law’s face when he first saw her definitely attested to that.

The hours before the wedding were a little bit stressful as things came together at the last minute (i.e. the florist not showing up until about 30 minutes before the ceremony started…), but I guess that comes with the territory. My dad teared up a little bit, but in all he did great walking her down the aisle. About half way through the ceremony (which was outside), it started to thunder and lightning. Hugh Kirby, the officiant, made the call to move everyone inside. We scrambled inside, and just as the last of the guests got through the door it started to downpour! We were all laughing as we finished up the rest of the ceremony improv-style, including Caroline and Josh. If you can laugh about something like that, chances are you’re going to have an awesome marriage!

The ceremony was a blast. Everyone was on the dance floor (Memo was hilarious), the food was great and the wine was flowing. Ken caught the garter! And I thought all in all, my toast went pretty well even though I totally winged it. When my dad got up there to give his speech I cried for the first time the whole night. He wrote an amazing poem to my sister, which he read to everyone.

The happy couple made their escape around midnight, with all of the guests holding up sparklers. They will certainly have some amazing memories from that night! They are honeymooning in Jamaica, and then they are going to move into their apartment in Athens. I’m really excited, because that means I will get to see my sis a lot more than I’m used to (well, at least until December when I graduate).

I can’t even believe the wedding is over already. The last of the out-of-town family left this morning, which is a little sad, but I have to say we’re enjoying the long awaited peace and quiet.

Click Here to see a few more pictures from the wedding and rehearsal dinner.

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